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Bis B flat fingering

VirusKiller

Member
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449
Until my lesson earlier this week, I had no idea how I was supposed to play Bis B flat.

For those who don't know, you use your left index finger - L1 - to play both the B key and the Bis B flat key together. This means that, in a key with B flat in the signature, you play the Bis B flat key with most of the other notes in the scale.

Imagine the revelation when practicing my scales last night! B flat is sooo much easier! :welldone
 

Nick Cook

Member
Messages
861
I've started using the Bis Bb key more as well. When my teacher first told me it was easier to use in some cases than the side key, I tried it, but didn't really get on with it. However, Bb appears quite a lot in the tunes I'm currently playing and it is easier. I don't use the side key at all any more!!!
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,094
When I started I always used the bis Bb, it was just so much easier, but then I would get in a flap if I needed to play a B natural (only so much mental capacity). As the tunes got harder I had to retrain myself to use the side Bb key which is all I use now. There are a couple of tunes where the long Bb would be useful but again brain capacity limits my ability and agility to choose the best Bb fingering on the fly and so it's safer to stick with the side key.

Anyone use the side C key much?

Chris
 

Pete C

Member
Messages
344
Chris has highlighted the problem with the Bb bis key - it's very easy to get into the habit of using it all the time even in keys like F# or B major where there is also a B natural where it is actually inappropriate. For this reason I try to get my pupils playing everything with the side key Bb to start with and when I do finally show them the bis key, I stress that it's not for keys or phrases which necessitate moving between the Bb and B natural. Unlearning that habit can take hours of work.

Pete
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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3,560
I have always played Bflat using the side key (right hand). Until I came to play maple leaf rag for my grade 6.
This goes (IIRC) F Bb G Bb D' F G Bb .... and I found I was slapping the RHS of the sax so hard I was moving it in my mouth and affecting my embouchure.
My teacher suggested the bis Bb key (I hadn't known it was called that until this thread) as I can then leave my LH index finger on both the B and Bb bis key throughout the whole sequence, in fact for about 8 bars as the sequence also repeats until eventually I need a B natural and can slip my finger up.
All the other Bb that occur in the piece I play as A with top RH side key.
I'm not sure I would ever think to play Bb with the bis key in any other piece though.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Yes, the bis key is useful in some circumstances. Don't forget the other ways to do Bb though - L1/R1 and L1/R2. I'm playing a jazzy piece that has a sequence F#/A#/B. It's easier to use the L1/R2 option for A#(Bb) as you can leave the R2 down from the F# and only need to lift it to get to the B from A#.

Side key for C is useful if you have a chromatic run.
YC
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
It seems that most players develop a preference for one or the other of the Bb fingerings. I like side Bb. I suppose that in the early stages of learning it doesn't matter too much which one of them one uses. There is sually enough time to get ready. Later one discovers that in more complex and fast passages selecting the appropriate fingering makes all the difference.

Selection of the fingering depends largely on what comes before and after the Bb. You will in fact find that if you are comfortable with all four, you will often automatically select the one that suits the piece best. This may mean that in a passage going up and down using the same notes you may find it more convenient to use different fingerings when you hit Bb again.

Much has been written about what may the "correct" Bb fingering. Paul harvey says in The Saxophone that left hand 1 and 2 and side key is the main Bb fingering and should be used for all scalic passages. I don't know to what extent this holds in practice, but it is nice to know anyway.

The Universal Method, pages 72 to 74, has some exercises centering on Bb.

Same as Yong Col, I find the C side key useful in chromatic runs. On most other occasions, standard C seems to serve the purpose.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
I've got to the stage with Bb that when I see it in a piece of music, my mind goes blank and I can't remember the fingering.... :w00t:
Side C is also good when you're running up to C and then down again, rather than going up to the next octave.:mrcool
 

Pete Thomas

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14,532
Until my lesson earlier this week, I had no idea how I was supposed to play Bis B flat.

I once had a student who insisted that all Bb should only ever be played with a bis Bb, so I spent three years catching him out with passages that need fork or side Bbs.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
I generally suggest that if Bb's in the key signature, Bis Bb is a good idea.
B = LH1, Bb/bis = LH1, no thinking needed.

If the key sig contains sharps, as a rule of thumb, you'll need the side key:
A = LH1, LH2, A# = LH1, LH2, RSK1.

Bb, use bis, A#, use side key.

Clarinet playing sax teachers tend to teach side-key Bb for preference since that's the clarinet fingering too.
Sax players/teachers who don't play/teach clarinet usually opt for bis.

Of course it's best to use all four methods interchangably...!?

Nick
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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5,993
I have a vague recollection that there's a bit in Milhaud's Scaramouche that works quite well using lh2 for covering the bis key. When I've sobered up IICBA I'll look it up.
 

GsySaxMan

Member
Messages
91
Can you guys clarify something for a newbie like me.

From the fingering charts I can see how to play Bb (with bis) and A#; however, on the right hand for A# which finger do you use to press the RSK3 key?

The reason I ask is I am learning the major scales over the next 12 weeks or so in the order of no sharps or flats (C major), 1 sharp (G major) 1 flat (F major) and 2 sharps 2 flats, 3 sharps 3 flats etc...and I am on F major at the momemnt!

Thanks

Ken
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
A#/Bb fingerings are the same, it's the same note (lookup enharmonic notes if you want to know more).

So instead of B + Bb bis It's LH A fingering (B + A or 1 & 2) plus the side Bb or A# key for both. Makes an A/A# trill by bouncing on the side key
 

VirusKiller

Member
Messages
449
on the right hand for A# [Bb] which finger do you use to press the RSK3 key?
I use the side/underside of my index finger around the knuckle furthest from the fingertip. I've never been taught that, but it seems right. There's a picture in "The Complete Saxophone Player" (volume 2) which shows the index finger being used at around the 2nd knuckle from the fingertip, but I think that moves your index finger too far from the main R1 (F) key.
 

GsySaxMan

Member
Messages
91
Thanks Kev and yes I know about enharmonics, my other half who's a piano player went over that terminology together with tones, semitones and all that good stuff.

Maybe it's me but my actual question was about the right hand, I know you use the A natural fingering on the left hand plus the RSK3 on the right for Bb, but what finger do you use on the right hand to press the RSK3 key?

In fact may I ask which finger or fingers do you use on the right hand to press all the side keys RSK1 to RSK4, and the high F# key on my Yamaha YAS-275?

Many thanks.
 
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